Amara West project blog


Investigating life in an Egyptian town

Amara West 2015: views from the sky

Neal Spencer, Keeper, Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan

After two days of frustrating stillness and heat, a mighty wind arose today: our kite, laden with camera, could finally lift off.

Amara West town
Kite photography provides a different perspective on the excavations. This shot, part of a flight where the camera was set at an oblique angle, places the current excavations in context, against the backdrop of the Nile (flowing from right to left) and Jebel Abri. The walled town can be seen to the left, but the excavation teams cluster around the western suburb to the right. A prominent feature of the ancient site are the mounds of excavated spoil, some dating to the 1930s and 1940s, resulting from Egypt Exploration Society excavations, others from our work since 2008.

West suburb kite view
Most of today’s airtime was used for near vertical photography, here over the heart of the western suburb, with house D12.8 to centre, clear of windblown sand. The long shadows of men at top left indicate this was an early morning flight: we could not wait for the sun to be higher, as the wind can become too strong for the kite. Bottom left is house D11.2, peppered with white sugar sacks. These are in place to protect delicate surfaces from being scoured by the wind, ahead of detailed sampling and recording. These will be removed for final kite photography.

G31 pyramid tomb, Amara West
We finished with a flight over the cemetery on the desert escarpment. This view shows the pyramid monument of tomb G321 (with western edge destroyed) and the chapel that faces east towards the rising sun. Through kite photography, photography on the ground, 3D visualisations and drawings in plan and elevation, the monument is currently being fully documented. Then, and only then, will the shaft leading down to the burial chamber (here full of windblown sand, to bottom right) be excavated.

Alongside regular updates on the blog, follow the season on Twitter: @NealSpencer_BM and #amarawest

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Filed under: Amara West 2015, archaeology, Egypt Exploration Society, funerary, Kite Aerial Photography #KAP, New Kingdom, settlement, survey

2 Responses

  1. VERY stupid question: can you control the kite or does it go where it wants?

    • nealspencer says:

      Kite cannot be accurately controlled, though easy to get it over area of interest if wind is reasonable. Camera can be set at an angle or on constant slow rotation, with shutter release set to trigger at set intervals, using CHDK software. More expensive options such as drones come with issues in terms of flying permits, at least in some countries.


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